Ending the Epidemic of Entitlement

7 January 2022

Welcome to the new space race. With catastrophic impudence, Bezos, Branson, and Musk claim to serve the world by dumping vast quantities of pollutants into the air, for a few minutes of glory. (Call it a media race too.) The message is that if you have billions, you can pollute to your heart’s content. Climate change is for the lesser people. 

Well, I have news for these three narcissists: You are models of an epidemic of entitlement that is destroying us all.  If you can do whatever you please, even be celebrated for it, why shouldn’t the rest of us? Let’s all join together to bring ourselves down.

Across the board, around the globe, some corporations set the tone: do whatever serves the shareholders until getting caught. Then along came Trump, to declare open season on decency, thus empowering the thugs of the world. Turkey, Texas, Venezuela, Russia, China, and much of the U.S. Congress are now determined to denigrate democracy, closely followed by fans storming the halls of government.

Individualism, narcissism, and entitlement make a convenient combination that is running rampant. Don’t tell me that I can’t use my (untaxed) money to race into space. Don’t tell me that I have to take some jab in my arm. Don’t tell me, a policeman, whom I can and cannot shoot. Don’t tell me, a pharmaceutical executive, how to price my medicines: let the poor eat aspirin while they die for want of my medications. Don’t tell me, as president of the United States of America, that I can’t lie to my heart’s content. Who are YOU—some neighbor, citizen, community—to tell ME what to do?

So let ME tell YOU all who I am. If you want to jump off a bridge, I will try to stop you, but ultimately, it’s your decision. But if you want to jump off a bridge and land on me, that my decision, too. Refuse the vaccine, run a red light, pollute your way into space (using money that could have been taxed for less frivolous purposes), and you put me at risk. 

I believe in individual rights, because life would be intolerable without them. I also believe in collective and communal rights, because life is becoming intolerable without them. We need to balance these three, and that means we need models who deserve our respect.

© Henry Mintzberg 2022, See RebalancingSociety.org.